Have you ever left a Pilates class feeling long, strong and completely energized? Do you love seeing progress in your clients and hearing how much they appreciate you? If so, becoming a certified Pilates instructor could be an incredibly rewarding career path for you.
Teaching others through movement and seeing their health improve is so fulfilling. But it does take dedication and training to become qualified. This complete guide outlines the key steps to earn your Pilates certification and start teaching.
- 1 Step 1: Take Pilates Classes Yourself First
- 2 Step 2: Choose Classical or Contemporary Pilates
- 3 Step 3: Start Your Pilates Instructor Certification Program
- 4 Step 4: Choose Your Form and Specialty
- 5 Step 5: Pass Your Pilates Certification Exam
- 6 Step 6: Commit to Continuing Education
- 7 Additional Step 7: Obtain Liability Insurance
- 8 Additional Step 8: Start Teaching Clients
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Pilates Instructor:
Step 1: Take Pilates Classes Yourself First
Before teaching Pilates, it’s essential to understand it yourself as a student. Immerse yourself in classes to learn proper technique, vocabulary, sequencing and modifications. Trying different studios exposes you to various teaching styles too.
Taking classes helps you appreciate firsthand how Pilates transforms bodies. You’ll gain the experience needed to relate to future clients and their needs. Classes also spark your passion for sharing this life-changing method.
While practicing, learn about the fascinating history of Pilates. Discover how Joseph Pilates developed the artful system and its evolution over the decades. This foundation helps you teach principles rather than just exercises.
Plan to commit several months to consistently practicing Pilates yourself before pursuing certification. This immersion into the lifestyle is the perfect kickstart to becoming an instructor.
Step 2: Choose Classical or Contemporary Pilates
There are two main paths to becoming a certified Pilates teacher – Classical or Contemporary Pilates. Understanding the difference between the two styles helps determine which training route is right for you.
Classical Pilates stays as close as possible to Joseph Pilates’ original teachings and techniques. Training focuses strictly on mastering the 34 core mat exercises he outlined along with proper use of his specialized equipment.
Precise order, form, tempo and cues matter greatly in this traditional style. The goal is to preserve the method in its purest essence just as the man himself developed it.
Contemporary Pilates embraces advancements made by later generations of instructors. It’s influenced by modern developments in biomechanics, sports science and physical therapy research.
Rather than only using Joseph’s original 34 mat sequence, Contemporary programs integrate new exercises as understanding evolves. There’s also greater flexibility about equipment usage and individual modifications.
Both styles have advantages. Choose the approach that best resonates with your personal teaching philosophy. Just be sure to select an accredited program (see Step 3).
Step 3: Start Your Pilates Instructor Certification Program
To earn your official credentials, you’ll need to complete a comprehensive Pilates instructor certification program through a reputable organization. Here’s what to look for when researching schools:
Programs involve multiple learning components like lectures, supervised practice, observation hours, exam prep and assessments. Quality programs take 1-2 years to complete. Be wary of short “crash courses” under 200 hours.
Expect to invest $2,000-$5,000 for a proper certification program. Be skeptical of deals under $1,000 – instructor training is intensive and comprehensive. Payment plans can ease the financial burden.
Many programs are based in Pilates studios with both classroom and studio portions. Online-only options are now available too. Ensure sufficient hands-on practice time is included in any virtual program.
Look for certifications offering multiple apparatus/modality options – Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels and specialized programs like pre/post-natal, seniors, athletes, conditions, etc. More specializations increase teaching opportunities.
Once enrolled, program components typically include:
- Lectures covering Pilates principles, anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, injury prevention, cues, etc. Gives theoretical foundation.
- Hands-on practice mastering exercises on all equipment with proper form, flows and modifications. Builds practical skills.
- Observation of experienced instructors. Learn teaching techniques, class structure, cueing, adjustments, etc.
- Practice teaching to clients under supervision. Get comfortable providing adjustments and modifications. Log required teaching hours.
- Exam preparation to review material and practice test simulations. Ensures comprehension and readiness.
Proper Pilates training blends theory with supervised practice. You’ll gain confidence in your knowledge, teaching abilities and client interactions to become a skilled instructor.
Step 4: Choose Your Form and Specialty
As you progress through certification, you’ll define your unique teaching style and ideal clients. It’s common to specialize in Pilates for specific populations like:
- Pre- and post-natal women
- Athletes/sports conditioning
- Rehabilitation for injury/chronic conditions
- General physical fitness
You can also specialize in particular Pilates apparatus and formats:
- Mat – floor exercises without equipment
- Reformer – sliding carriage machine
- Cadillac/Tower – table with springs, bars and accessories
- Chairs – seated exercises with resistance springs
- Barrels – round Barrel springs provide instability
Try practicing different specialties during training to find your passion. While it’s wise to start broad, over time many instructors niche down to attract ideal students.
Step 5: Pass Your Pilates Certification Exam
The final requirement is passing an exam to demonstrate your acquired Pilates knowledge and ability to apply it. Exam formats vary between accreditation agencies but generally involve:
Written Theory Exam – Covers anatomy, kinesiology, teaching methodology, terminology, principles, injury prevention, modifications, etc. Classical programs also assess your understanding of Pilates history and Joseph’s philosophies.
Practical Exam – Assesses your technical skills performing exercises on all apparatus. Also tests teaching ability through sample instructions, corrections and postural analysis. Feedback is given.
For Contemporary routes, exams are typically taken at conclusion of the full program after you’ve refined skills through practice teaching. Classical assessments are integrated throughout training to ensure strict standards aligned with Joseph Pilates’ intentions are continually met.
With dedication and consistent preparation through a quality program, your exam should demonstrate your readiness to be a capable, knowledgeable and certified Pilates teacher.
Step 6: Commit to Continuing Education
Even once certified, a Pilates instructor’s learning never stops. Expect to complete regular continuing education to:
- Maintain your certification through required training hours
- Expand your skills through new exercises, apparatus and specializations
- Incorporate evolving best practices based on new research
- Observe other teachers for technique and class structure ideas
- Improve areas for growth based on client feedback
Be open to refining your teaching throughout your career. Consistent improvement ensures you provide safe, customized guidance that changes clients’ bodies for the better.
Additional Step 7: Obtain Liability Insurance
An often overlooked but essential task is obtaining liability insurance to protect yourself professionally. As a fitness teacher, you’ll be manually adjusting clients and guiding them through physical exercises. This risk means instructors require coverage.
Liability insurance is mandatory if you plan to teach in a studio or gym. But it’s also highly recommended for private and remote instruction. Look for Pilates-specific instructors policies that cover any potential injury claims.
With the proper insurance coverage, you can prevent legal problems and teach worry-free.
Additional Step 8: Start Teaching Clients
Once properly certified, insured and registered, you can confidently begin teaching Pilates! Market yourself to local studios and gyms or offer private sessions. Build clientele through your unique specializations.
Seeing clients improve week to week and achieve their fitness goals is incredibly rewarding. You’ll also grow personally as an attentive, knowledgeable and motivating teacher.
The journey takes diligence but becoming a Pilates instructor allows you to positively impact lives through movement. There’s no greater fulfillment than helping others live stronger, pain-free and more fulfilling lives.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Pilates Instructor:
How long does it take to become a certified Pilates instructor?
Most quality certification programs range from 200-500 hours which typically takes 1-2 years to complete depending on your weekly dedication. Be wary of claims under 200 hours – proper training is extensive.
Why get certified rather than teach without credentials?
A certification demonstrates you have received proper, comprehensive training and met assessment standards. This gives you credibility with potential employers, clients and insurance providers. Always display your certificate!
How much do Pilates instructors earn on average?
Average pay ranges from $30-$100 per hour based on your experience level, location and type of classes. Those with multiple specializations and working in major cities earn towards the higher end.
Becoming a certified Pilates instructor requires training and practice but brings immense fulfillment. With passion and consistency, you can begin changing lives through movement. Follow these key steps to earn your credentials and start teaching clients safely.